Why even bad dance videos are ok

Cuban Salsa, “Casino”, is a social dance. So is Dominican Bachata, X-Body Salsa, Bachata Sensual, Kizomba, Zouk, etc. Most of us are amateurs. We have learned the dance from friends or from the one of our peers who volunteered to be instructor. Or from dance schools run by enthusiasts often part time.

Most of us have learned the dance as not that young grown-ups. We have devoted a couple of hours a week for a couple of years at dance schools to reach a basic level, and now we go social dancing 2-3 times a month, more or less, and it gives us so much.

It goes without saying that very few of us are champions of the world except in our own social dance. We should respect that. And that is exactly why we are especially found of Latin social dancing: it is so inclusive.

As I use to say to remind myself: there is no such thing as a clumsy Follow. But we have a Lead not knowing to serve her moves at her level.

Videos of social dancers as well as of instructors in dance schools and at workshops are bound to be rather mediocre in an ideal sense. If not all the time then most of the time, if we apply the highest standards.

A social dance and the effort to teach and learn it has very little in common with the sport elites preparing for the Olympic Games, or with ballet companies and sports dance competitions. Social dancers are mostly just casual dancers, ordinary people having learned enough to have a good time. And their instructors are often just good enough to get them there.

For all those reasons we should be very tolerant and forgiving when we watch dance videos. With rare exceptions there is always something to criticize, or details we don’t want to use in our own social dancing. We are mostly watching amateurs, ordinary people like you and me.

In every human activity we have a small elite much better than the rest. Some social dancers have more talent, train more and dance more. In our modern world both the best and the less good and even beginners, upload their dance videos. And the default settings of YouTube is, I am sorry, that a video is public!

It is unavoidable not to stumble upon a lot of not that good dance videos. Even videos from dance school classes and workshops are rather casual in nature. Often the moves or combo are recorded with the instructor just dancing with one of the students at some intermediate level standing next to him or her, having only tried the move or combo a couple of times.

The videos are often just a short hand reminder of what we learned in class today, giving the students a chance to learn the name of the move and maybe train it a little before next class. That is all there is to it, and we should accept and respect that.

When I write my tutorials I like to link to all sorts of videos, rehearsed, almost choreographed, showcases with good instructions as well as you and me dancing. It is simply so fascinating and inspiring also to see ordinary people dance even when not always that good. And I really like the internationalism of especially Latin social dancing. If I cannot find a good video by top class instructors, I have no problem linking to a mediocre video with a lot of issues. I also often disagree with some of what I see in the best videos.

Mostly we should look at the videos for what is useful in them, not with the mind of a Judge pointing out everything that is wrong. Sometimes a bad video is still useful for the overall concept or picture of a move or combination. It gives us a chance to learn it ourselves and use it our own way, despite the fact that the execution of the move in the exact same video was terrible.

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